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Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Last week I was kindly invited to the sparkling Cavalli Club for dinner and wine.

It was evening to celebrate Tenuta Degli Dei which is the wine created by Tommaso and Roberto Cavalli. I had a chance to ask the charming Tomasso about his love of wine and he explained that he has chosen a variety of different grapes to grow instead of the traditional chianti as he wanted to create something new and exciting as well as in respect to the neighbouring established chianti vineyards. He said that his wine is still young at 10 years and that it takes time for a wine to develop a mood. We were offered Le Redini 2009 and the Tenuta Degli Dei 2007 with our meal. I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to fellow blogger Sarah, the Hedonista, who is quite the wine expert and encouraged me to smell the raspberry and blackcurrant and explained about the pepper which comes from the skin and seeds of the berry. I preferred Le Redini which is 90% merlot and was slightly lighter.

Our delicious menu started with seared scallops (my fave) wrapped in smoked duck on a morel risotto, an amuse of leek followed by Mesquite smoked Black Angus, crisp potatoes, earth salad and smoked tomato cream. I asked Tomasso what food he likes to eat most and he said he cooks a mean steak! he did also say that Japanese food is a firm favourite and when travelling he always looks for the best sushi restaurant.We finished our meal with dark chocolate Molleux with heart of caramel and a very alcoholic glass of Grappa!

We were entertained by a very beautiful opera singer and as the night went on the restaurant filled with more and more beautiful people, wealthy men, women dressed head to toe in sequins(I think it’s the Cavalli Club dress code!), fabulous shoes and so many pairs of perfect eyebrows! I don’t live in this land of bedazzle but I do enjoy visiting every so often. It was a great night meeting fellow bloggers, eating delicious food and indulging in ever flowing wine. A huge thanks to our kind hosts Camellia, Zahirah and Sheamus from Pragma PR Agency.

For Reservations to dine at the Cavalli Club call 04 332 9260 or 050 856 6044 or reservations@cavalliclubdubai.com

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VOGUE declares colour and pattern are back! Yeay! What better way to overcome the cold, grey winter months of January and February in Europe. And here where the weather couldn’t get any more perfect it is time close the door on all that christmas pudding and start experimenting with new salads to accompany those bbqs and desert camping trips! Why not do both…..

 

Fashion: Dolce & Gabbana rose-print bustier and pencil skirt. Dior ribbed silk/cotton cardigan

Food: Green bean, spinach, roasted onion and butternut squash salad topped with pickled beetreet and feta cheese, delicious with a balsamic dressing and a perfect accompaniment to a grilled steak.

Food: Basmati, red camargue and wild rice with prawn and smoked salmon, tossed in oil, lemom and hondashi dressing

Fashion: Pheobe Philo printed leather biker jacket, hibiscus print shirt and trouser, leather wedges all by Celine

Fashion: Christopher Bailey’s batik-print trench for Burberry, sunglasses Cutler&Gross. (I love, want, need?? this coat!)

Food: Bill Granger’s Asian slaw, red and white cabbage with red onions and celery tossed in a sweet, tangy and incredibly refreshing miso dressing.

Check out Bill Granger’s new book, Bill’s Everday Asian. (I bought this as a christmas present to myself and absolutely love it. Recipes are straightforward and delicious and the photography and styling is excellent)

Fashion from January issue of Vogue UK, ”Be so Bold” modeled by Agyness Deyn, photographer Patrick Demarchelier

Food made, styled, photographed and eaten by Mary-Kei!

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Kenwood have a hi-tech kitchen set up in a shop! The Jashamal store in Festival City to be precise. I was invited to a delicious Christmas lunch there last week It was a Cook & Coffee, Kenwood have been doing these events for a few years, starting in Paris in 2009, then Hong Kong and Shang Hai and now in Dubai. It is a great way to demonstrate their machines to the public in an interactive way (so you don’t have to read the whole manual!!). And as I got to eat the food it was the right kind of interactive for me!!

Now I don’t have to be persuaded as to how great the Cooking Chef is, I have had my own private lesson thanks to Sue Poynter from Kenwood where we made bread dough and cake frosting as well as pasta! Amazing, all with one  machine that chops, grinds, slices, mixes, heats, pulse stirs, whisks, steams, basically you name it,  the Cooking Chef pretty much does all it bar the washing up! (and there isn’t even much of that as you are using the same bowl!)

We were very lucky to have  Chef Dima cooking for us. She made Christmas lunch look a doddle as she sliced potatoes and butternut squash for dauphinoise, grated cheese, chopped peppers for the Mediterranean foccacia and pepper stuffing and made gingerbread cookie dough. She was so full of handy cooking tips too! Check out more on her blog, Dima’s Kitchen.

Dimas tips:

  • When cooking with olive oil, it has a low smoking point so when you add it to the pan you don’t want to hear a sizzle as that means that it is already oxidizing and you will lose the flavour.
  • Flavour your pots and pans with oil, salt, pepper and herbs before you start cooking.
  • Dry your own rosemary, buy it fresh, wash it thoroughly then leave the whole plant to dry in the sun. This has much more flavour than shop bought dried rosemary.
  • Roll cookie dough in sheets of baking paper so as to not add too much flour which would make your cookies too dry.

Then we got a chance to decorate our own cookies. I loved this bit of course……

And just as tummies were beginning to rumble we were all treated to a delicious lunch of maple brine turkey with cranberry relish, a winter bake of vegetables and walnuts and Mediterranean stuffing. I have to say it might have been the most succulent turkey I’ve ever had! Sorry mum!!

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This past year I grew tomatoes, aubergines and peppers only to find myself harvesting one pathetic cherry tomato! Not even a bunch, just the one!!! So I have to hand it to my father when he showed me his vegetable garden. The deal is my mum does the flowers (and the sculptures), and my dad does the veg. Of course they both battle to find enough time to stay on top of the garden but as it seems to be an English national  obsession it is permanently at the top of the ”to do” list!

He has courgettes, (I made a courgette quiche the other day), tomatoes, beetroot, beans, lettuce, leeks and of course rhubarb which just seems to grow itself and has lived in the same corner of the garden since I can remember! I was informed that the rhubarb needed using up! Growing your own means that you not only have a constant stream of fresh and therefore delicious vegetables but it also forces you to make dishes that you probably wouldn’t make everyday.

As my brother and his family were coming over for Sunday lunch I decided to use the rhubarb in an adaptation of the very traditional English summer dessert, Eton mess. Eton mess is a dish of strawberries, cream and meringue mixed together and has been around since the early 19th century and was traditionally served at the annual cricket match between Eton college and Winchester college. The great thing about it is it’s so quick, easy and tasty. (if you like creamy desserts)

Rhubarb Mess

1. Peel the rhubarb to get rid of the stringy bits.

2. Chop into chunks and put in a pan with sugar and cinnamon.

3. Simmer until soft and leave to cool.

4.Whip some double cream and add sugar to taste. Mix in the rhubarb compote.

5. Before serving fold in the crushed meringue. If this is done too early the meringue will dissolve and the texture will be lost.

6. Serve chilled in individual bowls or glasses.

Styling tip: Glupey food should be served in smaller containers or dishes so it looks more attractive!

Now, rhubarb is an acquired taste due to its tartness. So I was not at all surprised when, after their first mouthfuls, I got a unanimous, ”I don’t like it!!!!!!” from my two little nieces. Luckily I had some mini magnums as back-up!

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Its done! We have completed the new kitchen in The Studio, Al Quoz. With bespoke kitchen units, a new fridge, 5-hob gas cooker with electric fan oven, a new extractor fan, a new hot water tank and even a moveable centre unit with a gas hob insert! This has been designed to be a functioning kitchen for all food stylists as well as ideal for shooting cookery webisodes. The colours are neutral greys which can be propped with numerous complimentary colours to achieve different looks. It is also equipped with chopping boards, pots, pans and knives to help food stylists lug a little less. And thanks to Rehana from Kenwood we can also boast top of the range cooking machines, blenders, coffee machines and more which are on their way as we speak!

To book this space go to The Studio. Thank you to Nick Davidson, Selva, Jumeirah Carpentry, Rehana, Elisa and Candice for making this happen.

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The one-piece is back! Check out these amazing swimsuits from Ralph Lauren, Moschino, Roberto Cavalli and Dolce&Gabbana, all featured in this months edition of Tatler. What better way to enjoy the summer that with delicious ice lollies and ice cream. Make your own ice lollies with fresh fruit juices or try a new flavour ice cream.

Food styling tip:

To avoid ice lollies from frosting over, blow on them using a straw or use compressed air such as ‘Dust Off’.

 Try  green tea ice cream served with shiratama dumplings (rice flour) and sweet adzuki bean paste, available at most Japanese restaurants. This desert always reminds me of summer in Tokyo.

Food styling tip:

Make fake ice cream using icing sugar and food colouring, see ‘I Scream for Ice cream’ blog. I used acylic paint as well to get the colour right on this ice cream.

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Well I have been in denial but I think summer is upon us! I keep on stepping outside and thinking “Oh its quite warm today!” but I fear this is it guys, brace yourselves for the on-coming 45 degree heat that we all endure (somehow) every year.

What better vegetable to come to the rescue than the Cucumber! The Cucumber is cool and soothing and is packed full of vitamins and water. Here are a few fascinating facts about the Cucumber…..

The Facts:

1. It contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Iron Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium and Zinc!

2. It is great as an afternoon pick-me-up as it contains the right amount of Vitamin B and carbohydrates, try it next time instead of reaching for that bar of chocolate.

3. When rubbed on skin the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten so it is great to put on your eyes if a little puffy or rub cellulite areas before heading down to the pool!

4. If  you’ve had a few too many and don’t want to wake up with a hangover, eat a few slices of cucumber before you go to bed. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

5. If you want a “green” way to clean your sink, taps or stainless steel take a slice of cucumber and rub the surface you are cleaning, It will bring back the shine with no streaks.

6. If you are using a pen and have made a mistake, take the skin of the cucumber and slowly rub to erase the pen writing,(tippex may be a bit quicker!!!) it also works on delightful crayon graffiti that kids may have decided to decorate your house with!

Here is a delicious recipe for  Gorden Ramsey’s  Chilled Avocado and Cucumber soup, a perfect chilled lunch for hot summer’s day:

2 large cucumbers, about 14 oz each, chilled

juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

2 ripe avocados

2 tbsp strained plain yogurt

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

sea salt and black pepper

½ red onion, minced

1 plum tomato, seeded and minced

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

3–4 basil leaves, finely shredded

1. Peel the cucumbers, quarter lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Dice a quarter and set aside for the garnish. Roughly chop the rest, place in a blender with half the lemon juice,

and whiz until smooth.

2. Halve, pit, and peel the avocados. Mince one avocado half to use for the garnish. Squeeze over a little lemon juice and set aside with the diced cucumber. Tip the rest of the

avocados into the blender.

3. Blend the avocados with the puréed cucumber, strained plain yogurt, and Worcestershire sauce until very smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper, and add lemon

juice to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

4. For the garnish, combine the diced cucumber and avocado with the red onion and tomato. Toss with the olive oil and shredded basil.

5. Taste the chilled soup for seasoning and add a splash of cold water if it is too thick. Pour into four chilled bowls and spoon the garnish into the center. Add a drizzle of olive oil and grind over a little pepper.

So simple, I actually added a little milk as well as water to it as it was very thick. It definitely makes the weather a bit more bearable!

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